Sauce for the goose?

Thanks to Donald Douglas, I found this story:

L.A. Weatherman Sues CBS Stations For Hiring Young, Attractive Women

Kyle Hunter has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against CBS Broadcasting and its stations KCBS and KCAL.

6:15 PM PDT 3/15/2012 by Matthew Belloni

Kyle Hunter Portrait Gray - P 2012
A Los Angeles weatherman has filed a lawsuit claiming he was passed over for jobs at two prominent stations because he wasn’t a young, good-looking woman.

Kyle Hunter, who has worked as a meteorologist in various southern California markets during a 23-year career, filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against CBS Broadcasting and its owned-and-operated Los Angeles stations KCBS and KCAL on Thursday. He’s represented by Gloria Allred.

Hunter alleges “that within the past few years, KCAL and KCBS decided to hire young attractive women as weathercasters in prime time rather than men in order to induce more men to watch their prime time newscasts,” according to the suit. That means there was no place for Hunter, an over-40 male meteorologist with impeccable credentials, he says.

More at the link, including Mr Hunter’s statements concerning what he claims he was told by station personnel.

It’s no secret that the Fox News Channel fronts its shows with young, attractive women in short skirts. But I’ve been noticing that lately CNN is doing more of the same thing; the host on CNN’s morning show this morning — I don’t know her name — was wearing a sleeveless, short red dress that could have come straight from the Fox & Friends wardrobe closet.

The question is: is it the job of the television weathercasters to report the weather, or to draw more viewers to the show? Mr Hunter’s argument seems to be that the job is to report the weather forecast as clearly and understandably as possible, in such a way that the viewers will be best informed. But the station managers are more interested in the overall picture, and their top five concerns are ratings, ratings, ratings, ratings, and ratings. If Mr Hunter happens to be an excellent weatherman, who delivers his segment of newscasts very well, does it really matter if a station manager, and the corporation which owns the station, believe that there would be more viewers watching their local newscasts if there was a pretty, leggy woman doing the weather instead of Mr Hunter?

However, we can look at Mr Hunter’s photograph at the right, and one thing jumps out: he is a very handsome man. If Mr Hunter is now being beaten out for television weathercasting jobs these days, is it not possible that he got his first weathercasting job because he was better-looking than his competitors?1 Might this not be a sauce for the goose situation?

There’s no way to know, in advance, how a case like this will turn out, but, in a way, men coming out of college seeking jobs in television meteorology might want to hope that Mr Hunter loses. If that seems counter-intuitive, consider the implications of a victory for Mr Hunter: station managers at the smaller market stations might well decide — perhaps subconsciously — that they should only hire attractive women at the entry level; if the men coming out of college meteorology programs never get that first job, they’ll never build the kind of résumés that Mr Hunter is using to claim that the women who were hired over him were less qualified.

But Mr Hunter’s problem seems obvious: the answer to the question, is it the job of the television weathercasters to report the weather, or to draw more viewers to the show, is that it is both. If station managers happen to believe that younger, attractive women will draw more viewers to the program, and those women are capable of doing the weathercasting job, men like Mr Hunter might well be just plain out of luck.

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  1. Philadelphia’s Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz is an obvious exception!